If we played a game of word association with cheese, the first ones to pop up in our mind would be the popular Italian or Swiss cheeses like Parmesan and Gruyére. But at the recently concluded World Cheese Awards 2022 (WCA), organised by Guild of Fine Food in Wales, three Indian cheeses shattered the notion that only the West knows how to get the beloved dairy product right.
Two of Eleftheria’s cheeses, the Mumbai-based artisanal micro-creamery founded by Mausam Jotwani Narang, secured top ratings. Their Moony, which is a cloth-bound cheddar, won the gold, while the whey-based Elef Brunost took home the silver.
It’s not the brand’s first rodeo at the coveted awards though—last year, Brunost won the silver, being the first Indian cheese to do so. It also happens to be the first brown cheese in India; is fashioned on the Norwegian whey cheese; and created with whey (a by-product of cheese-making), milk, and cream that lend it a rich taste similar to salted caramel milk fudge.
The title of bronze was won by Käse Cheese, a Chennai-based cheese brand, which is the brainchild of Namrata Sundaresan, a trained cheese maker, and Anuradha Krishnamoorthy, a social entrepreneur. And the award-winning cheese in question was a lavender-infused cheddar.
This was not the only desi representation at WCA 2022. In the judging panel was the only Indian judge—Mansi Jasani of the Cheese Collective—alongside 250 cheese experts from across 38 countries. She was part of the jury at last year’s World Cheese Awards too, held in Spain. This year’s competition saw a whopping 4,434 cheeses from 42 countries being judged in a single day. Surrounding the judging arena was the World Cheese Market, which featured a string of stands selling cheese accessories and produce from cheese makers plus affineurs (those who age or “mature” cheese).
While the top title of World’s Best Cheese was won by a Swiss Gruyére, we hope this big win by Indian cheese brands paves the way for recognition of regional cheeses beyond paneer within the country and opens up the local audience’s palate to a world of undiscovered homegrown dairy products.
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